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The Three Peaks Cyclo-Cross is an annual Cyclo-cross event over the three peaks of Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-ghent, in Yorkshire, England. 

In September 1959 a young, brave lad from the nearby town of Skipton took on the challenge that he set himself to complete the already legendary “The Three Peaks” hiking/running route on his bike. That 14 year old called Kevin Watson completed the then 40Km one lap course in 6 hours 45 minutes, turning Kevin into a local star populating the local papers with his proud achievement. Inspired by the local star Kev, a week later three riders from the main city of Leeds took on the challenge to complete the course in 6 hours 30min. As talk filtered through Yorkshire, folk from far and wide set plans to descend on the area to take on the Three Peaks. On October 4th 1959, ten riders from Bradford Racing Cycling Club had what could have been classified as a race. Only six finished. 



Jump to October 1st 1961, and the first official version of the Three Peaks Cyclo-Cross (CX) race took place. Although 14 year old Kevin Watson was the first person to take on the three peaks on a bike, John Rawnsley has the official title as the first winner of “The Three Peaks” CX race. Not only was John the first official winner, he also happened to organise that first race. He went onto race and finish another 46. 


The mass start CX race is a unique type of bike race. You could argue it is not a bike race. It is but a slog over the three small, but majestic mountains, be it by foot or wheel it bills itself as the "hardest cyclo-cross race in the world." 


The original course was 40 kilometres long, but was increased to 47 km in 1980. The 1980’s saw the most change throughout the event’s long history. The course was extended numerous times. More course changes in 1982 and 1983 increased it further, to 50 km and then 57 km respectively. The most recent alteration, in 1994, extended the course to 61 km. The riders and bikes started to change to discover the best solution for the race. This was where the multiple bike strategy started to play part. Bikes would be switched for each main section, where riders would change to a more traditional “road” bike for the smoother tarmac sections and in the early days, mountain bikes were even allowed for a time too. This all stopped in 2011 when the race organises banned all flat handlebars. Drop bars are now compulsory. Not that it really matters what bars are fitted to the bike when 8 to 10k is deemed “unrideable”.


The Three Peaks holds a place in many a heart. There are names that will always be associated with t’ “Peaks”. Along with the likes of young Kevin Watson, the legend of John Rawnsely, Brenda Atkinson the first female to win the race once women were “allowed” to enter in 1979.

More recently there have been three main names that come to mind when discussing the potential winner of the legendry race. Multiple Winner Rob Jebb (HOPE Tech Racing), team mate Paul Oldham who took his first winner after 13 times of trying in 2015 and finally Nick Craig (SCOTT Racing). 



“When I 1st raced 3Peaks I was 16 years old, it was such a challenge to get round never mind race it. I did believe I could win the race one day, but I can't even remember how many 2nd place finishes I've had.  That's what makes me keep coming back. With an 11 year break (MTB world champs commitments) and 2 foot and mouth out breaks, I've started and finished 17 times. My 1st win in 1991 aged 21 felt good, but winning 18 years later aged 40 after finishing 2nd to Rob Jebb several times beating him by a mere 15 seconds.

I'll never forget 1989 aged 19 passing my dad on my way down pen y gent, purring rain I took my rain jacket off and handed it to my dad as he headed in to the cloud. The exact conditions he had won the 3rd ever of the race in 1963. I guess this was handing over the baton and it was my duty to try my best to one day win this epic race.

My dad was at the race to watch me achieve this in 1991, that’s what makes that win so special.

When my Dad passed away 4 years later aged 57, 3 time winner Fred Salmon donated a trophy to the best junior finisher, every year I always look on at the presentation wondering if one day I might see one of my boys enjoy this race, like I and many others have.”

-Nick Craig


SCOTT Addict Gravel 10 Bike
SCOTT Addict Gravel 10 Bike
SCOTT Addict Gravel 20 Bike
SCOTT Addict Gravel 20 Bike
SCOTT Addict Gravel 30 Bike
SCOTT Addict Gravel 30 Bike
SCOTT Speedster Gravel 10 Bike
SCOTT Speedster Gravel 10 Bike
SCOTT Speedster Gravel 20 Bike
SCOTT Speedster Gravel 20 Bike
SCOTT Speedster Gravel 30 Bike
SCOTT Speedster Gravel 30 Bike
SCOTT Addict CX RC Bike
SCOTT Addict CX RC Bike
SCOTT Contessa Speedster Gravel 15 Bike
SCOTT Contessa Speedster Gravel 15 Bike
SCOTT Contessa Speedster Gravel 25 Bike
SCOTT Contessa Speedster Gravel 25 Bike

Photos: Brian Vernor, Sam Flanagan